Tag Archives: Steven Segal

A New York Minute: It’s All Greek To Me

9 Oct

October 9, 2015

nymgreekcrop

Hey! We’re back with a New York Minute for you. Some of you out there may still remember those. Anyway, buckle up and away we go.

They’re filming a movie a couple of blocks away from me. I never did find out if it was a movie or TV show, but it was filmed at a Greek diner and the scene they shot over the course of a week was a police standoff. The actors were not familiar to me, and judging by the lack of autograph seekers or publicity they weren’t big names. There was your standard plainclothes cop with a shoulder holster, your standard female FBI agent in a severe black suit, and one- and only one- member of a SWAT team in full camouflage and armor. (I later found out that it was The Blacklist. I’ve never seen the show, but I understand that as of today the episode hasn’t aired yet.)

For about a week there were movie trailers and equipment littering the area and taking up a lot of valuable parking spots, and then one day they were all gone.

This isn’t the first time they’ve filmed a movie in my area. Aside from Saturday Night Fever, which I covered in a very early New York Minute, they also filmed a Steven Seagal film around here in the early 90’s, Out for Justice, I think. I’m pretty sure it was the one where Seagal wore a beret and a sleeveless vest and sleeveless shirt combo. That was the outfit that best showed off his, um, acting skills, I believe. Anyway, please don’t ask me to go back and watch it.

out for justiceWhile that was filming, I ended up with my Dad in Williamsburg, which is about as far from my end of Brooklyn as you can get and still be in the borough. Another movie was filming there at the same time as the Seagal opus, and whatever it was, it was a small indie effort. My dad, with a little superior smirk, gave the crew a dig and said “not like the Steven Seagal movie they’re shooting by me, huh?” That may be the strangest piece of reflected glory I ever heard.

But back to the present, and the Greek diner. The diner isn’t very good, which is why I won’t give them any free publicity, but it is a great example of 1970’s architecture. It looks now the same way it looked when I was a kid, right down to the ripped carpets and stained seats. Greek diners are a New York staple. In fact, the official NYC store sells ceramic copies of the iconic Greek blue coffee cups, the one with the Greek urns on it. In fact, I once worked with a guy who called every diner “that Greek place.” This caused a lot of confusion when he wanted to meet me at the “that Greek place” and I never found it, despite actually standing right in front of it. Why was it so hard to find? The “Greek” diner proudly had a big red Albanian flag waving in the window.

Greek diners have been New York staples since the 1950’s, and they are distinct from the tin clad railroad car looking diners you see all across America. They are noted for the large rotating pastry displays you can usually find right as you walk in. According to the New York Times, so you may want to take this with a grain of salt, most New York diners are owned by people of Greek decent. And while you can always get a range of Greek food, they serve it all, from Matzoh ball soup to cheeseburgers. Come to think of it, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had that exact combination.

From my part of Bensonhurst, I am just 10 minutes away from two very good Greek diners, and 5 minutes away from the not-so-hot one where the movie was just filmed. And that may be a touch ironic, since the Greek population of Brooklyn has been on the decline for years. But the diners are still going strong.

This has been your New York Minute. All this diner talk has made me hungry. Maybe I’ll watch Out for Justice to lose my appetite.

 

This post is, by a happy coincidence, appearing on my father’s birthday. Happy Birthday Dad! We all miss you.

An audio version of this story recently appeared in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!

A New York Minute (18) September 2014- Al Pacino!

17 Sep

September 17, 2014

Hello, and welcome to your New York Minute. This week’s episode is brought to you by Pharell’s big hat.

Al Pacino was born in Manhattan, but it took some Brooklyn law breaking for him to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

I live in South Brooklyn, and in more than one New York Minute I talked about organized crime and the movies. There was Kid Twist and Coney Island, the Bowery Boys, even the mob shaking down the crew filming Saturday Night Fever. Al Pacino starred in some of the greatest organized crime films ever made, The Godfather and The Godfather Part Two. Many years later, he also starred in a Godfather parody called The Godfather Part Three.

Pretty much for as long as I can recall, I had been told that one of the houses in The Godfather was actually located right around here, so the other day, just for you, I set out to find “the Godfather house” and sure enough, it was right in my backyard.

As seen in the movie

As seen in the movie

Turns out it was the house that Clemenza lived in, and although I already had the address, I found out that the neighbors are pretty good about people, like me, who still come around looking for the house and taking pictures. I’d ask if you go, please be nice and respectful, as it is a quiet residential neighborhood. It’s a narrow street, so don’t try to double park, and also, please don’t knock on the door and ask if Martin Scorsese ever drops by from some capicola. Um, not that I did that.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The house today. I took the shot on the right.

The most interesting thing about the house isn’t the building itself, which is pretty nice, it’s the neighborhood. It is located just a few minutes away from the inspiration for another famous Al Pacino film. Just the next year, Al, (we’re on a first name basis, we’re good like that), was back in Brooklyn filming Dog Day Afternoon, and unlike The Godfather, this was based on an infamous bank robbery that happened wayback when I was a kid. And it turns out that I pass the robbery location almost every single day.

The scene of the crime: then and now

The scene of the crime: then and now

I’m not talking about where the film was shot, this is the actual robbery scene. Back in the 70’s this was a Chase bank, but today it is vacant. Want to rent it? The way this area is going, it’ll be sure to be a hipster juice pub thing any day now. Anyway, the building has gone through a few owners, it still has the cut corner that was a trademark of Chase banks of the era.

The movie was filmed in Windsor Terrace, still in Brooklyn but with Prospect Park as a backdrop. In a nutshell, the bank robbery went bad, hostages were taken, and it turned into a police standoff with the hundreds of onlookers rooting for the crooks. In the end, the cops seem to give in to their demands but Pacino’s character gets 20 years in prison. Spoiler warning! That was a spoiler.

dogdaymovie

Interestingly, both films also starred the amazing yet odd John Cazale, and if he were born in Brooklyn this would have been a neat and tidy way of wrapping things up but he had to spoil it be by being born in Massachusetts. No foresight there, thanks a lot.

Although I was too young to see any of the filming of these movies, in 1991 I did get to see the filming of Steven Segal’s Out for Justice, and believe me, that’s not a feather in anybody’s cap.

This has been your movie star, and Steven Segal, -filled New York Minute, and like Pacino said in The Godfather III- “just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in!”

What, you were expecting Scent of a Woman? “HOOOOOO-AH!” There you go.

An audio version of this story recently appeared in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!

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